Few ideas in the history of the automobile have been as outright insane as that of the Neon SRT-4. Described by Motor Trend as something between a Hemi Cuda and a Civic Si, the SRT-4's calling card has always been the sheer pointlessness of its existence. But, without a doubt, the world is a significantly better -- and faster -- place for Chrylser's littlest muscle car.
In production for three short years, from 2003 to 2005, the Neon SRT-4 holds a distinct honor that no front-driver should: It was the second-fastest vehicle in Chrysler's lineup at the time, behind only the almighty Viper. The first cars' boosted 2.3-liter put out a very respectable 215 rated horsepower at the crankshaft, and the engine got a 15-horsepower boost in 2004. Those numbers were always a lie, though -- independent testing has shown again and again that these cars make more than their rated crankshaft power at the wheels. That means somewhere in excess of 260 to 270 real-world horsepower at the crankshaft.
2003 models were limited to 148 mph, and 2004 and 2005 models were electronically limited at 153 mph. They'd do every inch of it, too; Motor Trend speculated that the 2003 model would have done 160 if not for the limiter. that's a problem easily remedied, though; Dodge's own "staged" upgrades, culminating at Stage 3, could easily max the SRT-4's 160 mph speedometer. Check out the video in the references below.